SSP Daily Digest: 9/27 (Afternoon Edition)

IA-Sen: Selzer & Co. for Des Moines Register (9/19-22, likely voters, 11/8-11/09 in parentheses):

Roxanne Conlin (D): 30 (30)

Charles Grassley (R-inc): 61 (57)

Undecided: 6 (10)

(MoE: ±4.2%)

Not much to see here other than the remarkable consistency over the almost one year’s period since the previous Selzer poll of this race. (I just learned a new word today, while searching for how to describe this race, linked to the Chet Culver vortex: “syntropy.” It’s synergy + entropy.)

NH-Sen, NH-Gov: American Research Group (9/22-26, likely voters, Dec. 2009 in parentheses):

Paul Hodes (D): 32 (36)

Kelly Ayotte (R): 46 (43)

Undecided: 20 (21)

John Lynch (D-inc): 42

John Stephen (R): 40

Undecided: 14

(MoE: ±3.5%)

ARG, mateys! Here be a mighty treasure trove of undecided scallywags! (And here be the gubernatorial link.)

OH-Sen, OH-Gov: Univ. of Cincinnati for various Ohio newspapers (9/16-20, likely voters, 5/11-20 in parentheses):

Lee Fisher (D): 40 (47)

Rob Portman (R): 55 (46)

Undecided: 5 (6)

Ted Strickland (D-inc): 45 (49)

John Kasich (R): 49 (44)

Undecided: 6 (6)

(MoE: ±3.4%)

University of Cincinnati hasn’t been in the field for a while, so they missed the very steady decline of the Dems in Ohio, making it look like more of a sudden collapse. At any rate, this is actually Ted Strickland’s best non-internal showing since early August.

WA-Sen: Commonsense Ten is out with a $412K independent expenditure in the Washington Senate race, on Patty Murray’s behalf. (Wondering who they are? This Hotline article from July explains how they’re something of a Dem answer to groups like American Crossroads, as well as giving some legal background on just how it came to be that the super-wealthy can give endless money to 527s to spend endlessly on IEs.) Meanwhile, there are dueling ads in Washington. As one might expect, Patty Murray lets Dino Rossi hang himself with his own anti-Boeing words, while Rossi hits Murray on her support of tarps. (Since most Washingtonians own several tarps — they only thing that allows them to go camping during the ten rainy months of the year — I don’t see what the big deal is.)

WV-Sen: The Dems are definitely getting active in here: the AFL-CIO is out with a huge direct mail blitz in West Virginia, and the DSCC is placing a major ad buy there starting tomorrow. In the meantime, John Raese, Tweeter and Facepage aficionado, is sticking to the GOP party line on global warming: it’s all volcanoes’ fault! (Wait… I thought it was sunspots. They’d better get their stories straight.)

AK-Gov: Bill Walker, after weeks of dithering in the wake of losing the GOP gubernatorial primary, has formally decided against a write-in bid (despite having an easier-to-spell name than Murkowski). No word on an endorsement of either Sean Parnell or Ethan Berkowitz, although Berkowitz has been steadily reaching out to Walker.

GA-Gov: With Nathan Deal not really having done much to deflect the attention being paid to his family’s imminent financial collapse, now he’s having to run damage control on another issue: his campaign is accused of having spent $135K to lease aircraft from a company where Deal himself is a part-owner. State ethics law bars candidates from using campaign funds for personal benefit, although the open legal question here is whether this turns into “personal benefit.”

NM-Gov: Third Eye Strategies for Diane Denish (9/21-23, likely voters, no trendlines):

Diane Denish (D): 46

Susana Martinez (R): 46

Undecided: 7

(MoE: ±4.4%)

This is kind of odd… we just got a Diane Denish internal poll from a totally different pollster (GQR) in the middle of last week. Does she have two different pollsters working for her? At any rate, the news is decidedly better in this one, showing a tie where last week’s poll had her down by 5.

TX-Gov: Blum & Weprin for Texas newspapers (9/15-22, likely voters, 2/2-10 in parentheses):

Bill White (D): 39 (37)

Rick Perry (R-inc): 46 (43)

Kathie Glass (L): 4 (-)

Deb Shafto (G): 1 (-)

Undecided: 8 (13)

(MoE: ±3.9%)

The Texas race is extremely stable (check out the flatness in Pollster‘s regression lines, with a mid-single-digits spread). While I’d like to think that Bill White can get over 50% on his own, his best hope at this point might be for Libertarian candidate Kathie Glass to start taking a bigger share (presumably out of Rick Perry’s hide, via the same crowd who went for Debra Medina in the primary).

FL-24: Hamilton Campaigns for Suzanne Kosmas (9/22-23, likely voters, 8/25-29 in parentheses):

Suzanne Kosmas (D-inc): 45 (43)

Sandy Adams (R): 43 (49)

Undecided: 12 (9)

(MoE: ±3.7%)

This is the first internal we’ve seen from Team Kosmas, and while it’s not the kind of numbers that fill you with great confidence (up 2 in one’s own internal), it is an indicator that we’re still looking at a Tossup here instead of Lean R (which is where some of the other prognosticators have been sticking this one). The movement in Kosmas’s direction suggests that voters have found out more about the crazier side of Adams in the wake of her surprise primary victory.

MS-04: Tarrance Group for Steven Palazzo (9/21-22, likely voters, December 2009 Tarrance Grop poll for NRCC in parentheses):

Gene Taylor (D-inc): 45 (68)

Steven Palazzo (R): 41 (24)

(MoE: ± ?%)

There were reports last week that the NRCC was starting to smell smoke in this race (despite having an underfunded, low-name-rec candidate in Palazzo), and was going to try out a round of polling. Seems like their hunch may be right, as long-time Rep. Gene Taylor (who hasn’t given Dems much reason to take interest in him lately… well, ever, really) is up only by single-digits in a new poll from the Palazzo camp.

PA-10: Momentum Analysis for Chris Carney (9/23-25, likely voters, no trendlines):

Chris Carney (D-inc): 46

Tom Marino (R): 38

Undecided: 17

(MoE: ±4.9%)

Chris Carney, having been slightly on the wrong end of a public poll from the Times-Leader (and on the very wrong end of that sketchy AFF poll last month), rolls out an internal giving him an 8-point lead over Tom Marino. Marino (who’s pretty underfunded, although the NRCC is starting to get involved) is little-known (only 26/24 faves), so this is going to be one of many races where the Dem’s survival is based on localizing in order to fend off Generic R.

PA-16: I’m not sure what to make of this: the uphill campaign of Lois Herr (going against Joe Pitts in the 16th, which is solidly Republican but moved a lot in the Dems’ direction in 2008) is out with a second internal poll from PPP that has her within single digits of the GOP incumbent. Pitts leads 41-34, which seems kind of bizarre considering that we’re seeing polls in Pennsylvania with incumbent Dems losing by larger margins than that in much friendlier districts.

SD-AL: Bennett Petts and Normington for Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (9/22-23, likely voters, no trendlines):

Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D-inc): 51

Kristi Noem (R): 38

Undecided: 10

(MoE: ±4.9%)

Here’s one race that seems to be becoming a little more comfortable for the Democrats. (Recall that Herseth Sandlin led in the last Rasmussen poll of this race, after months of trailing.) I wonder how much of that has to do with the reveal of Noem’s atrocious driving record, given voters’ memories of leadfooted ex-Rep. Bill Janklow?

DLCC: If you’re looking to really micro-target your financial contributions to where your dollars get stretched the furthest and the leverage is the greatest (given the knife-edges on which many state legislatures, and the entire 2012 redistricting process, rest) the DLCC has rolled out its “Essential Races” program. This points to some of the tightest races in the tightest chambers; the link details their first wave of 20.

CA-Init: There are some Field Poll leftovers to look at, concerning three of the biggest initiatives on the ballot this year. The news is good all around, although the margins aren’t decisive: Proposition 19 (marijuana legalization) is passing 49-42 (it was failing 44-48 in the July Field Poll). Proposition 23 (undoing greenhouse gases limiting legislation) is failing 34-45. And maybe most importantly, Proposition 25 (allowing budget passage with a simple majority) is passing 46-30.

Florida: Mason-Dixon’s latest Florida poll (we gave you Sen and Gov numbers over the weekend) has a lot of miscellany in the fine print that’s worth checking out. They find the GOP leading narrowly in three major downballot races: Pam Bondi leads Dan Gelber in the AG race 38-34, Jeff Atwater leads Loranne Ausley in the CFO race 29-27, and Adam Putnam leads Scott Maddox in the Ag Comm race 36-32. They also find that Amendment 4 has a shot at passing; it’s up 53-26, although bear in mind that you need to clear 60% for a Florida initiative. Amendment 4 would require localities to put changes to comprehensive zoning plans up to a public vote; Josh Goodman has a good discussion of it today along with several other initiatives in other states that may pass despite having both sides of the entire political establishment lined up against them.


FL-Sen: Marco Rubio rolls out his first ad en espanol, a biographical spot

PA-Sen: How many freakin’ ads has Pat Toomey come out with? Anyway, here’s another one

CT-02: Joe Courtney stresses his independence, especially regarding TARP

CT-05: Chris Murphy’s new ad focuses on stopping outsourcing

PA-03, PA-11: The DCCC is out with new ads in the 3rd and 11th, continuing the trends of hitting Mike Kelly as out-of-touch millionaire and hitting Lou Barletta for sucking as Hazleton mayor


AL-Sen: William Barnes (D) 30%, Richard Shelby (R-inc) 58%

CT-Sen: Richard Blumenthal (D) 50%, Linda McMahon (R) 45%

DE-Sen: Chris Coons (D) 49%, Christine O’Donnell (R) 40%, Mike Castle (I) 5%

GA-Sen: Michael Thurmond (D) 36%, Johnny Isakson (R-inc) 52%

IA-Gov: Chet Culver (D-inc) 37%, Terry Branstad (R) 55%

ND-Sen: Tracy Potter (D) 25%, John Hoeven (R) 68%

SC-Sen: Alvin Greene (D) 21%, Jim DeMint (R-inc) 64%

SSP Daily Digest: 8/23 (Afternoon Edition)

KY-Sen: The online “moneybomb” technique seemed to help Rand Paul get a lot of traction in the early months of the Republican primary, but his latest few scheduled moneybombs have been fizzles. Yesterday’s was a case in point: $258K is still a lot of dough for two days, but it was far short of the planned $400K. (And every penny counts: Paul reported only $319K CoH at the end of June.) Are Paulists feeling tapped out these days, or are his early-adopting libertarian-minded nationwide fans chafing that he’s increasingly parting ways with his dad and becoming more of an NRSC sock puppet? (As seen just today with their divergence over Cordoba House.)

PA-Sen: Two pieces of good news in Pennsylvania: first, Joe Sestak is rolling out an endorsement from Chuck Hagel, the former GOP Senator from Nebraska who was on the short list for an Obama cabinet position. Not that Hagel is probably a household name in the Keystone State, but it certainly burnishes Sestak’s bipartisan (and military) cred. Also, the DSCC is planning to spend even more on this race, letting Sestak, presumably, keep marshaling his resources for a big late push (the kind that helped him shoot past Arlen Specter in the closing weeks in the primary). They’re spending $546K on broadcast media this week, on top of $494K last week; the DSCC’s total spending and reservations so far in this race amount to $4.4 million.

WI-Sen: Hmmm, maybe all that sunspot and Greenland stuff actually started to stick. Republican wingnut candidate Ron Johnson is trying to undo the crazy on his various climate change comments, offering the usual last refuge of the pathetic walkback, that his remarks were “taken out context.” Johnson is also trying to walk back his previous support for elimination of the home mortgage interest deduction, about as popular a provision of the tax code as there is. If you wanted to simultaneously set back both the entire real estate business and the middle class by several decades, eliminating the home mortgage interest deduction would be a good way to do it.  

IL-Gov: The exodus from the field of broken dreams that is the Pat Quinn camp just continues. Today, the departee is CoS Jerry Stermer, and while it isn’t a rancorous departure (as was the case with Quinn breaking it off with David Axelrod’s media firm last week), he is resigning to avoid being a distraction with an ethics investigation (over whether he sent political e-mails from his government account) hanging overhead. With Quinn seemingly circling the drain, that ain’t gonna help.

AZ-05: In the “ooops, spoke too soon” department, presumed Republican primary frontrunner David Schweikert opted for a last-minute ad buy for $14K on cable, apparently worried that he was losing momentum going into tomorrow’s primary. Last week, his camp had said he was so far ahead they were just going to go dark and start saving money for the general. Meanwhile, next door in AZ-03, Steve Moak, the only candidate who rivals Ben Quayle on the money front, is out with a new ad hitting Quayle over his pseudonymous tenure writing for the website that was the precursor to

FL-24: Wow, Craig Miller actually went there: he sent out a last-minute mailer going after the widely-known, but not yet broached in the campaign context, issue of GOP primary opponent Karen Diebel’s mental stability. Maybe he’d been planning to do a last-minute boom-lowering all along, but it seems kind of strange, as Miller’s millions have seemed to have the race locked down, not requiring him to get his hands dirty. Was there a last minute Diebel surge (she’s been attacking him on being too soft on immigration)?

TX-23: Republican challenger Quico Canseco is out with an internal poll, via OnMessage, giving him a small lead over incumbent Dem Rep. Ciro Rodriguez. The poll gives Canseco a 43-37 lead, a turnaround from Rodriguez’s lead of 48-45 in a Canseco poll from June.

Ads: Bobby Bright’s out with his first ad, in AL-02. SSP southern correspondent Trent Thompson’s description of the ad says it all, so I’ll just quote him: “”Bobby” voted against everything Obama. Also, he kisses a baby.” Ben Chandler is also out with an ad in KY-06, touting his saving the local VA Hospital. Finally, Rick Boucher’s GOP opponent, Morgan Griffith, is also out with a new TV spot, reminding you that he’s a conservative. (As an interesting ethno-linguistic observation, one clear indicator that VA-09 is an Appalachian district, not a Southern district, is that Griffith cites “Warshington” as being the source of all our problems.) NWOTSOTB, in all three cases.

We Ask America: The quirky little Republican-linked pollster that could, We Ask America, is out with an array of polls in Illinois (the state where they’re based). They find Mark Kirk leading Alexi Giannoulias 39-33, but they also look at three House races. In fact, they looked at these races back in March, so we now have trendlines. In IL-11, they find Adam Kinzinger leading Debbie Halvorson 52-32 (down from an already bad 42-30); in IL-14, they have Randy Hultgren leading Bill Foster 44-37 (also down, from 38-36). The good news: they have Dan Seals leading Bob Dold! in IL-10, 43-40 (Seals led 40-37 in March, so he’s holding his own). We’ve also discovered a few recent WAA odds and ends that we didn’t cover earlier: they also see Roy Blunt leading Robin Carnahan 47-43 in MO-Sen, and see Sean Duffy leading 42-33 over Julie Lassa in WI-07.


AL-Sen: William Barnes (D) 28%, Richard Shelby (R-inc) 60%

AR-Gov: Mike Beebe (D-inc) 53%, Jim Keet (R) 33%

MD-Sen: Barbara Mikulski (D-inc) 55%, Eric Wargotz (R) 39%

TX-Gov: Bill White (D) 41%, Rick Perry (R-inc) 49%

SSP Daily Digest: 7/27 (Afternoon Edition)

CO-Sen: Andrew Romanoff, who’s had seeming trouble articulating a motivation for his primary campaign against appointee Michael Bennet (other than “it was my turn”), still seems like he’s confident in his chances of winning the primary. He just doubled down by selling his house and lending the $325K proceeds to his campaign (or maybe he was just eager to sell the dump, anyway). Romanoff had $464K CoH on June 30, but most of that has been gobbled up by ad buys. Also on the ad front in Colorado, the shadowy, Ken Buck-backing 501(c)(4) Americans for Job Security is out with another anti-Jane Norton ad, attacking her over her support for anti-TABOR Proposition C.

DE-Sen: Christine O’Donnell, the forgotten right-winger in the Delaware GOP primary against Rep. Mike Castle, keeps hitting wingnut paydirt. Having already secured the Susan B. Anthony List endorsement, she’s now getting backing from two more of the engines pulling the crazy train: the Tea Party Express (the corporate astroturf umbrella org for the teabaggers), and Concerned Women for America (Phyllis Schlafly’s group). The Politico article includes a litany of O’Donnell’s baggage as rattled off by Delaware’s GOP state party chair, so it seems like the establishment is taking note and starting to push back.

FL-Sen: Well, that was fast; I guess when you have a few hundred million dollars at your disposal, you can whip up ads pretty quickly (or just have  a couple extra sitting in the can, ready to go). With Kendrick Meek having launched his first Dem primary ad yesterday, a negative ad against Jeff Greene, today Greene hit back with two different anti-Meek ads. One focuses on Meek’s family connections to a corrupt developer, and the other focuses on the cigar-maker carveout from SCHIP. As always, NWOTSOB.

KY-Sen: The Jack Conway camp has leaked Daily Kos an internal from Benenson giving them a 44-44 tie with Rand Paul, and a 48-46 lead over Paul with leaners pushed. The poll’s a little stale, having been taken June 26-29, but it’s good news; if nothing else, it’s confirmation for the most recent PPP poll, which also saw a tie. We have a copy of the full memo here. Another small reason for optimism in the Bluegrass State: there’s word of a new (and apparently nameless, for now) 527 headed by former progressive Democratic ’08 Senate candidate Andrew Horne, that will be playing in the Kentucky race. They have $2 million pledged by various business leaders to work with, and they’ve lined up Anzalone Liszt and Zata|3 to work for them.

CT-Gov: This is one of my favorite headlines since “Lamborn Primaried by Local Crank“: “Looney Backs Malloy in Governor’s Bid.” (Martin Looney is the state Senate majority leader.)

FL-Gov: Taking a page from Raul Labrador, Bill McCollum’s out with an internal. His own poll from McLaughlin & Associates finds him trailing Rick Scott 37-31. (The polling memo actually has the audacity to ask, “Why hasn’t Rick Scott done better?”)

MD-Gov: Local pollster Gonzales Research is out with their second look at the Maryland gubernatorial race; they find a 45-42 lead for Martin O’Malley over Robert Ehrlich, which very closely echoes the PPP poll from a few weeks ago. Their trendlines go back to January, when a Ehrlich re-run was only vaguely being discussed; then, O’Malley had a 9-point lead.

MN-Gov: Fundraising reports in Minnesota were due yesterday. GOPer Tom Emmer might well need to use that giant jar of pennies he had dumped on his table in order to buy some ad time, as he’s lagging on the financial front. Emmer has less than $300K CoH and raised under $800K in the first six months of the year, while DFL endorsee Margaret Anderson Kelliher has $385K CoH and raised about $1 million. Kelliher, however, still might not get out of her primary against two rich guys: Matt Entenza raised $360K during that period but also loaned himself $3.5 million (and spent $3.9 million, mostly on TV ads). Mark Dayton hasn’t filed yet.

OR-Gov: Republican Chris Dudley is padding his financial advantage over John Kitzhaber in Oregon’s gubernatorial race: he’s raised $850K since the May 18 primary, compared with $269K for Kitzhaber. Dudley has raised $2.6 million all cycle long, compared with Kitz’s $1.7 million. (One historical note, though: Ted Kulongoski was easily re-elected in 2006 despite being outspent by opponent Ron Saxton and his $7 million.) Much of Dudley’s money seems to be coming in from out-of-state, as the former NBA player and current financial advisor is getting a lot of Wall Street and sports industry money. Interestingly, the timber industry, usually a Republican force in the state, is staying largely on the sidelines this election, as they’re fairly friendly with Kitzhaber.

TN-Gov: Having nowhere to go in the GOP primary polls but up, Lt. Governor Ron Ramsey is going the out-and-proud Islamophobe route. Spurred on by the ongoing controversy over the construction of a mosque in Murfreesboro, Ramsey, in response to a question at an appearance, said, “You could even argue whether being a Muslim is actually a religion or is it a nationality, way of life or cult, whatever you want to call it.”

ID-01: Raul Labrador, a conspicuous absence from the NRCC’s anyone-with-a-pulse Young Guns program, says that he “opted out” of the Young Guns. (Yeah… just like I “opted out” of junior prom.) He didn’t give a specific reason why, although tensions between him and the NRCC have been high.

MN-03: I’m not exactly sure why Jim Meffert thought it was a good idea to release this internal, but I guess he needed to let people know that he’s actually contesting this thing. His poll (no mention of the pollster in the article) finds him trailing freshman GOP Rep. Erik Paulsen 44-27, with 7% for an IP candidate. The number he’d probably like us to focus on is that Paulsen has only a 33% re-elect (although only 12% say they’re a definite “no”).

MN-06: Seems like Johnny Law doesn’t like Michele Bachmann’s particularly freaky brand of law and order: the state’s police union, the Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association, just gave its endorsement to Dem Tarryl Clark in the 6th.

RI-01: The American Federation of Teachers, having just endorsed indie Lincoln Chafee instead of Dem Frank Caprio, also went for unconventional with their 1st District endorsement. They went for young up-and-comer state Rep. David Segal, who’s tried to stake out the most progressive turf in the Dem primary, instead of Providence mayor and presumed frontrunner David Cicilline.

TN-09: On top of having gotten SSP’s annual John Hostettler Award for outstanding performance at filing quarterly reports (for failing to electronically file his FEC report on time, despite having only $19K CoH), Willie Herenton got a much worse piece of news: the Congressional Black Caucus either doesn’t think much of his chances, or think much of him. Although they wouldn’t let Steve Cohen join their club in 2007, they did just endorse him, and sent $5,000 his way.


AL-Sen: William Barnes (D) 29%, Richard Shelby (R-inc) 59%

AZ-Sen (D): Rodney Glassman (D) 15%, Cathy Eden (D) 11%, Randy Parraz (D) 10%, John Dougherty (D) 7%

CO-Sen: Andrew Romanoff (D) 40%, Jane Norton (R) 44%

CO-Sen: Michael Bennet (D-inc) 39%, Jane Norton (R) 48%

CO-Sen: Andrew Romanoff (D) 42%, Ken Buck (R) 48%

CO-Sen: Michael Bennet (D-inc) 42%, Ken Buck (R) 48%

MA-Gov: Deval Patrick (D-inc) 38%, Charlie Baker (R) 32%, Tim Cahill (I) 17%

AL-Gov: Davis Leads in Primary, But Dems Trail in General

Research 2000 for Daily Kos (5/17-19, likely voters, no trendlines):

Democratic Primary:

Artur Davis (D): 41

Ron Sparks (D): 33

Other: 8

Undecided: 11

(MoE: ±5%)

Republican Primary:

Bradley Byrne (R): 29

Roy Moore (R): 23

Tim James (R): 17

Robert Bentley (R): 9

Bill Johnson (R): 3

Other: 2

Undecided: 17

(MoE: ±5%)

In my role as Daily Kos contributing editor, I asked Markos to poll this race because of a string of stories (as well as rumors of polls) claiming that Rep. Artur Davis was suffering in his primary against Ag. Comm’r Ron Sparks due to his vote against healthcare reform. Of course, since this is our first poll here, it’s hard to tell if there’s any truth to this narrative without trendlines. On the one hand, perhaps not – Davis does, after all, have an eight-point lead. On the other hand, that doesn’t seem so imposing, given that Davis has outspent Sparks by a large margin. In any event, the numbers are not too far off from a recent Davis internal, which had him up 46-33. Sparks hasn’t released any of his own polls.

As for the GOP race, crazy Ten Commandments judge Roy Moore could make this interesting. If no candidate gets 50% on June 1st, there will be a run-off on July 13th. As you’ll see below, Dems perform best against Moore, who is currently vying for the top spot with ex-state Sen. Bradley Byrne. Tim James, son of former governor Fob and notorious for his recent “This is Alabama – we speak English” is also in contention. The internal polling has been all over the map here, with James claiming the lead in one of his own surveys.

General Election:

Artur Davis (D): 31

Bradley Byrne (R): 48

Other: 7

Undecided: 14

Artur Davis (D): 38

Roy Moore (R): 43

Other: 9

Undecided: 10

Artur Davis (D): 37

Tim James (R): 45

Other: 8

Undecided: 10

Ron Sparks (D): 34

Bradley Byrne (R): 45

Other: 9

Undecided: 12

Ron Sparks (D): 40

Roy Moore (R): 41

Other: 12

Undecided: 7

Ron Sparks (D): 38

Tim James (R): 44

Other: 19

Undecided: 8

(MoE: ±4%)

The numbers look pretty bad for Dems – but it’s Alabama in a very difficult year, so you can’t say any of this is unexpected. I do think there is something disturbing about these results, though. Sparks and Davis have almost identical statewide favorables – 42-38 and 44-40 respectively. Why, then, does Davis perform consistently worse across the board against all Republicans? Though Davis is African American, he and Sparks do equally well among blacks in head-to-heads with Republicans. But Sparks does consistently better among whites. In any event, Dems should still be rooting for a Roy Moore primary win.

R2K also looked at the sleepy Senate race:

Democratic Primary:

William Barnes (D): 39

Simone De Moore(D): 11

Other: 3

Undecided: 47

(MoE: ±5%)

Republican Primary:

Richard Shelby (R-inc): 64

Clint Moser (R): 14

Undecided: 23

(MoE: ±5%)

General Election:

William Barnes (D): 33

Richard Shelby (R-inc): 57

Other: 3

Undecided: 7

Simone De Moore(D): 27

Richard Shelby (R-inc): 62

Other: 3

Undecided: 8

(MoE: ±4%)

Since we were already in the field, we were curious to know if Sen. Richard Shelby’s teabagging opponent was getting any traction. Answer: no. In fact, Shelby’s the only candidate among these four to have even filed an FEC report – and the 76-year-old Shelby has an amazing $17 million on hand.

Rasmussen Reports, You Decide, Vol. 13

Ever take the week off, and come back to find your inbox full of spam?

AL-Gov (3/29, likely voters):

Artur Davis (D): 33

Bradley Byrne (R): 50

Some other: 9

Not sure: 9

Artur Davis (D): 36

Kay Ivey (R): 43

Some other: 12

Not sure: 8

Artur Davis (D): 35

Tim James (R): 49

Some other: 10

Not sure: 7

Artur Davis (D): 44

Roy Moore (R): 40

Some other: 11

Not sure: 6

Ron Sparks (D): 33

Bradley Byrne (R): 43

Some other: 11

Not sure: 13

Ron Sparks (D): 33

Kay Ivey (R): 39

Some other: 15

Not sure: 13

Ron Sparks (D): 34

Tim James (R): 38

Some other: 13

Not sure: 14

Ron Sparks (D): 40

Roy Moore (R): 35

Some other: 15

Not sure: 10

(MoE: ±4.5%)

AL-Sen (3/29, likely voters):

William Barnes (D): 32

Richard Shelby (R): 59

Some other: 3

Not sure: 6

(MoE: ±4.5%)

AR-Sen (3/30, likely voters, 3/1 in parentheses):

Blanche Lincoln (D): 36 (39)

John Boozman (R): 51 (48)

Some other: 6 (6)

Not sure: 7 (7)

Blanche Lincoln (D): 36 (40)

Gilbert Baker (R): 51 (45)

Some other: 6 (6)

Not sure: 7 (8)

Blanche Lincoln (D): 35 (38)

Kim Hendren (R): 51 (43)

Some other: 5 (7)

Not sure: 8 (12)

Blanche Lincoln (D): 36 (41)

Curtis Coleman (R): 48 (43)

Some other: 7 (7)

Not sure: 8 (10)

Blanche Lincoln (D): 35 (38)

Jim Holt (R): 51 (45)

Some other: 7 (6)

Not sure: 7 (10)

Bill Halter (D): 34 (33)

John Boozman (R): 48 (55)

Some other: 8 (6)

Not sure: 11 (9)

Bill Halter (D): 36 (37)

Gilbert Baker (R): 44 (43)

Some other: 7 (5)

Not sure: 12 (13)

Bill Halter (D): 34 (35)

Kim Hendren (R): 42 (42)

Some other: 10 (7)

Not sure: 13 (15)

Bill Halter (D): 37 (35)

Curtis Coleman (R): 40 (38)

Some other: 10 (9)

Not sure: 13 (18)

Bill Halter (D): 34 (38)

Jim Holt (R): 43 (42)

Some other: 9 (8)

Not sure: 14 (12)

(MoE: ±4.5%)

FL-Gov (3/18, likely voters, 2/18 in parentheses):

Alex Sink (D): 36 (35)

Bill McCollum (R): 47 (48)

Some other: 5 (4)

Not sure: 12 (12)

(MoE: ±3%)

FL-Sen (3/18, likely voters, 2/18 in parentheses):

Kendrick Meek (D): 34 (32)

Charlie Crist (R): 45 (48)

Some other: 11 (11)

Not sure: 10 (9)

Kendrick Meek (D): 34 (31)

Marco Rubio (R): 48 (51)

Some other: 6 (7)

Not sure: 11 (11)

(MoE: ±3%)

HI-Gov (3/24, likely voters):

Neil Abercrombie (D): 54

Duke Aiona (R): 31

Some other: 6

Not sure: 9

Mufi Hannemann (D): 50

Duke Aiona (R): 29

Some other: 14

Not sure: 7

(MoE: ±4.5%)

HI-Sen (3/24, likely voters):

Dan Inouye (D): 65

Linda Lingle (R): 25

Some other: 3

Not sure: 6

(MoE: ±4.5%)

IA-Gov (3/17, likely voters, 2/18 in parentheses):

Chet Culver (D): 36 (37)

Terry Branstad (R): 52 (53)

Some other: 6 (6)

Not sure: 6 (4)

Chet Culver (D): 40 (40)

Bob Vander Plaats (R): 42 (46)

Some other: 8 (7)

Not sure: 11 (7)

Chet Culver (D): 40

Rod Roberts (R): 38

Some other: 10

Not sure: 13

(MoE: ±4.5%)

ID-Gov (3/23, likely voters):

Keith Allred (D): 28

Butch Otter (R): 60

Some other: 3

Not sure: 9

(MoE: ±4.5%)

ID-Sen (3/23, likely voters):

Generic Democrat (D): 28

Mike Crapo (R): 60

Some other: 3

Not sure: 9

(MoE: ±4.5%)

MI-Gov (D) (3/24, likely voters):

Andy Dillon (D): 12

Alma Wheeler Smith (D): 10

Virg Bernero (D): 8

Some other: 17

Not sure: 53

(MoE: ±4%)

MI-Gov (R) (3/24, likely voters):

Peter Hoekstra (R): 27

Rick Snyder (R): 18

Mike Cox (R): 13

Mike Bouchard (R): 6

Some other: 5

Not sure: 32

(MoE: ±4%)

NC-Sen (3/22, likely voters, 2/23 in parentheses):

Elaine Marshall (D): 35 (34)

Richard Burr (R): 51 (50)

Some other: 6 (4)

Not sure: 8 (12)

Cal Cunningham (D): 32 (29)

Richard Burr (R): 51 (51)

Some other: 7 (6)

Not sure: 11 (14)

(MoE: ±4.5%)

ND-AL (3/23-24, likely voters, 2/9-10 in parentheses):

Earl Pomeroy (D): 44 (40)

Rick Berg (R): 51 (46)

Some other: 1 (3)

Not sure: 4 (11)

(MoE: ±4.5%)

ND-Sen (3/23-24, likely voters, 2/9-10 in parentheses):

Tracy Potter (D): 25 (17)

John Hoeven (R): 68 (71)

Some other: 2 (4)

Not sure: 5 (8)

(MoE: ±4.5%)

NM-Gov (3/24, likely voters):

Diane Denish (D): 51

Susana Martinez (R): 32

Some other: 7

Not sure: 10

Diane Denish (D): 52

Pete Domenici Jr. (R): 35

Some other: 6

Not sure: 6

Diane Denish (D): 45

Allen Weh (R): 35

Some other: 7

Not sure: 13

Diane Denish (D): 52

Janice Arnold-Jones (R): 30

Some other: 6

Not sure: 12

Diane Denish (D): 43

Doug Turner (R): 34

Some other: 7

Not sure: 16

(MoE: ±4.5%)

NY-Gov (3/29, likely voters, 3/1 in parentheses):

Andrew Cuomo (D): 52 (55)

Rick Lazio (R): 29 (30)

Some other: 6 (5)

Not sure: 13 (10)

Andrew Cuomo (D): 51 (56)

Carl Paladino (R): 28 (27)

Some other: 6 (6)

Not sure: 15 (11)

Andrew Cuomo (D): 50

Steve Levy (R): 26

Some other: 7

Not sure: 17

(MoE: ±4.5%)

OH-Gov (3/30, likely voters, 3/4 in parentheses):

Ted Strickland (D): 45 (38)

John Kasich (R): 46 (49)

Some other: 2 (6)

Not sure: 7 (7)

(MoE: ±4.5%)

OH-Sen (3/30, likely voters, 3/4 in parentheses):

Lee Fisher (D): 38 (39)

Rob Portman (R): 43 (44)

Some other: 4 (5)

Not sure: 14 (12)

Jennifer Brunner (D): 38 (37)

Rob Portman (R): 45 (43)

Some other: 4 (6)

Not sure: 13 (15)

(MoE: ±4.5%)

RI-Gov (3/25, likely voters, 2/25 in parentheses):

Frank Caprio (D): 28 (27)

John Robitaille (R): 22 (19)

Lincoln Chafee (I): 39 (37)

Not sure: 11 (17)

Patrick Lynch (D): 22 (24)

John Robitaille (R): 26 (22)

Lincoln Chafee (I): 37 (38)

Not sure: 15 (16)

(MoE: ±4.5%)

SD-AL (3/25, likely voters, 2/23 in parentheses):

Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D): 44 (45)

Chris Nelson (R): 42 (38)

Some other: 6 (6)

Not sure: 9 (11)

Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D): 46 (49)

Kristi Noem (R): 35 (34)

Some other: 8 (4)

Not sure: 10 (13)

Stephanie Herseth Sandlin (D): 45 (51)

Blake Curd (R): 33 (33)

Some other: 8 (5)

Not sure: 14 (12)

(MoE: ±4.5%)

SD-Gov (3/25, likely voters, 2/23 in parentheses):

Scott Heidepriem (D): 32 (32)

Dennis Daugaard (R): 49 (41)

Some other: 6 (7)

Not sure: 13 (19)

Scott Heidepriem (D): 37 (34)

Dave Knudson (R): 32 (31)

Some other: 13 (13)

Not sure: 19 (22)

Scott Heidepriem (D): 39 (37)

Gordon Howie (R): 34 (29)

Some other: 9 (12)

Not sure: 17 (22)

(MoE: ±4.5%)

TN-Gov (3/22, likely voters):

Mike McWherter (D): 27

Bill Haslam (R): 45

Some other: 5

Not sure: 23

Mike McWherter (D): 29

Ron Ramsey (R): 43

Some other: 5

Not sure: 23

Mike McWherter (D): 31

Zach Wamp (R): 41

Some other: 7

Not sure: 22

Kim McMillan (D): 26

Bill Haslam (R): 46

Some other: 5

Not sure: 23

Kim McMillan (D): 25

Ron Ramsey (R): 43

Some other: 8

Not sure: 24

Kim McMillan (D): 29

Zach Wamp (R): 42

Some other: 5

Not sure: 25

(MoE: ±4.5%)

WY-Gov (3/25, likely voters):

Mike Massie (D): 25

Matt Mead (R): 43

Some other: 8

Not sure: 24

Mike Massie (D): 23

Ron Micheli (R): 45

Some other: 8

Not sure: 25

Mike Massie (D): 26

Rita Meyer (R): 43

Some other: 7

Not sure: 25

Mike Massie (D): 26

Colin Simpson (R): 41

Some other: 8

Not sure: 25

(MoE: ±4.5%)

SSP Daily Digest: 1/25

Site News: SSP is instituting a one-week waiting period for new users to post diaries. New accounts can still post comments right away.

AL-Sen: This race has to rank somewhere around 32 or 33 in order of likelihood to change hands among Senate races this November, but at least we’re showing up to compete: Birmingham-area attorney William Barnes announced that he’ll run against Richard Shelby for Team Blue. It’s his first run for office, and he says it’ll be a “total grassroots” effort (which I think is code for “can’t self-finance”).

AZ-Sen: J.D. Hayworth and Dana Rohrabacher always seemed like kindred spirits in their particularly loudmouthed version of ultra-conservatism. That seems to continue today, as the Orange County Congressman gave his former colleague his first big-name endorsement in his newly-minted primary challenge to John McCain.

MA-Sen (pdf): There’s a wealth of data in the Washington Post’s post-game poll of the Massachusetts special election; it’s well-worth looking through the whole memo. As with other polls, it points to a confluence of Republican enthusiasm and a Democratic failure to define the opposition (or themselves). Interestingly, only 60% of Brown voters say they favor Republican policies in Congress, and only 19% of them want him to work mostly to oppose Democratic policies instead of working to get Republican ideas into Democratic policy.

NY-Sen-B: His helicopter’s warming up on the launch pad: Harold Ford Jr. seems to be moving closer to a Senate primary run. An ally says he’s “80 percent” likely to run, and various steps he’s taking suggest he’s getting his ducks in a row – reserving web domains, and even crisscrossing the state, visiting that previously unknown sixth borough of New York City known as “Buffalo.”

WA-Sen: Republican insiders seem to be wondering if they can use the Massachusetts results to coax a top-tier (or any-tier, really) Republican to get into the race against Patty Murray. The problem for them is that there are really only two GOPers who are appealing and moderate enough to play at the statewide level, and AG Rob McKenna already seems to have his ticket booked for a 2012 gubernatorial run. That leaves Rep. Dave Reichert, whose spokesperson made a run sound unlikely, while still saying he “is not one to shut doors on any opportunity.”

IL-Gov: It may be news to you that someone named Bob Schillerstrom was running for Governor. Apparently it was news to the people of Illinois, too, as he dropped out at a strangely late stage (after consistently polling in the low single digits) and endorsed ex-AG Jim Ryan for the Republican nod. Schillerstrom’s lack of traction is kind of strange, since, as DuPage County Board Chairman, he has nearly a million constituents. His name will remain on the ballots, which have already been printed.

MD-Gov: The one elected Republican who seemed to be following through on running for Maryland governor decided against it and opted for a different course instead. State Del. Patrick McDonough is now running for Baltimore County Executive. McDonough had previously said he wouldn’t run if ex-Gov. Bob Ehrlich tried for a rematch, and while Ehrlich hasn’t done anything public on that end, McDonough said he thinks Ehrlich is planning to do it.

OH-Gov: More polling bad news for incumbent Democratic Gov. Ted Strickland: he’s trailing ex-Rep. John Kasich 51-45 in the new poll from the Univ. of Cincinnati. (Strickland led 49-46 in their previous poll in October.) One bit of the poll gives Strickland a potential way forward, though, if he can get his messaging to work: “When asked who’s to blame for Ohio’s economic misery, Bush ranked first, at 24 percent, followed by Wall Street and financial institutions at 23 percent and the U.S. Congress, 19 percent. President Barack Obama got the blame from 13 percent while just 3 percent blamed Strickland.”

PA-Gov: Another poorly-kept rumor panned out to be true: that wealthy Philadelphia businessman Tom Knox was going to drop out of the race and endorse Allegheny Co. Exec Dan Onorato, which happened over the weekend. Knox said he could have funded a big ad blitz to get competitive (he’d been polling in single digits) but didn’t want to hand ammunition to the Republicans. It’s unclear whether the big beneficiary here is Onorato, though, or ex-Rep. Joe Hoeffel, who benefits from being the only Philadelphia-area candidate left.

SC-Gov: Looks like Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer isn’t going to lay claim to the mantle of “compassionate conservatism” any time soon. The would-be successor to Mark Sanford compared poor people to stray animals over the weekend, saying: “You’re facilitating the problem if you give an animal or a person ample food supply. They will reproduce, especially ones that don’t think too much further than that.” He tried walking that back today, regretting his choice of words and also adding that he’s “not against animals,” either.

UT-Gov: Enthusiasm about our chances in the Utah governor’s race, thanks to the entry of Salt Lake County Mayor Peter Corroon and a recent Deseret News poll showing a competitive race, has to be tempered by the new Mason-Dixon poll of the race on behalf of the Salt Lake Tribune. They find incumbent GOP Gov. Gary Herbert with a more substantial lead over Corroon, 55-30.

WY-Gov: Former US Attorney Matt Mead made his widely-anticipated entry into the race official, as the backlog of top-tier Republicans running for the state house continues to grow. There’s still no word from incumbent Dem Dave Freudenthal on what his plans are, regarding the possibility of challenging the state’s term limits law and running for another term.

PA-08: Ex-Rep. Mike Fitzpatrick had only a short exploratory period before an official launch of his campaign to get back his seat from Rep. Patrick Murphy; he announced his candidacy at a public appearance on Saturday.

PA-10: Some Dude named Ted Yale announced his candidacy on the Republican side in the 10th. Considering that the news story doesn’t even note his occupation, I’m not convinced Yale poses much of a threat, but there is something more interesting buried in the article… former US Attorney Thomas Marino is now “expected” to announce his candidacy next week.

Retread watch: Can you believe that more than 20 former House Republicans are running again this year, either for Senate, governor, their old seat or, in the case of Richard Pombo, some completely other seat? The Hill runs down the full list.

Redistricting: Republicans have realized that the way back to power lies in the state legislatures, via their control over the post-2010 redistricting process in most states, and they’re budgeting accordingly. A new enterprise, the American Majority Project, and an old one, the Republican State Leadership Committee, are looking to get more involved in closely-controlled legislatures, and they have some big-name backers involved.

Senate 2010 outlook

A whopping eight months since my last Senate roundup, I figured it was high time to survey the landscape again. Overall, things have gotten significantly better for the Republicans in the last year, though not nearly as overwhelmingly so as the drama-prone national media might have you believe.

A continued Democratic majority in the Senate is all but assured after November (and is still quite likely in the House as well). The probable range, IMO, is a Democratic caucus in the 112th Senate of between 54 seats at the low end and 58 seats at the high end.

Read a race-by-race analysis (with pretty maps) below the fold…


This is the playing field in 2010: Democratic open seats in North Dakota, Connecticut, and Delaware; Republican open seats in Florida, Ohio, Missouri, Kentucky, New Hampshire, and Kansas. And here is my (early) results projection:


I am fairly certain of Republican pickups in North Dakota, Arkansas, and Nevada at this time, while the true tossup races for now are in Colorado, Missouri, Ohio, Delaware, and New Hampshire. The Democrats remain very slight favorites to hold Illinois and Pennsylvania, and the Republicans retain edges in Florida, Kentucky, and North Carolina.

As always, seats are ranked by likelihood of flipping:

1. North Dakota (open) – Byron Dorgan (D) retiring after 3 terms

Outlook: Very Likely Republican pickup

Dorgan’s retirement is indeed a huge blow to the Democrats, though perhaps canceled out by Dodd’s bowing out in Connecticut. Gov. John Hoeven (R) is in and will almost certainly be the junior Senator from North Dakota.

2. Arkansas – Blanche Lincoln (D) seeking third term

Outlook: Likely Republican pickup

Lincoln’s numbers are getting uglier against all opponents (the best she does is an eight-point deficit) and show no signs of recovering. Barring an eleventh-hour miracle, her Senate career is over, it seems.

3. Nevada – Harry Reid (D) seeking fifth term

Outlook: Leans Republican pickup

Reid has such a fundraising advantage and some time left to up his approval ratings, but few longtime incumbents recover from these dismal numbers. Many Democrats are probably quietly hoping that Reid “pulls a Dodd” in the next few months.

4. Colorado – Michael Bennet (D) seeking full term

Outlook: Tossup

Bennet faces a tough challenge in the Democratic primary from former state House Speaker Andrew Romanoff, and neither candidate seems secure against ex-Lt. Gov. Jane Norton or any of the other Republican prospects. The Democrats definitely have a good chance to hold this seat, with neither candidate carrying much prior baggage, but I sense that this race will go however the national climate goes, and at this moment, that means it will go to the GOP.

5. Delaware (open) – Ted Kaufman (D) retiring after partial term

Outlook: Tossup

I know that most polls have shown longtime Rep. Mike Castle (R) leading state Attorney General Beau Biden (D), but I for one am fairly convinced this race will tighten and the trends go Biden’s way once he declares and the state’s Democrats start “coming home.” Interestingly, Castle will be 71 years old on election day, to Biden’s 41, so there will likely be a noticeable contrast in tone and style between these two highly familiar candidates.

6. Missouri (open) – Kit Bond (R) retiring after four terms

Outlook: Tossup

Polls here have been close but consistent, with Secretary of State Robin Carnahan (D) barely ahead of Rep. Roy Blunt (R), always within the margin of error. Still, considering the GOP-friendly trends elsewhere during the last several months, this seems a promising sign for the Show Me State Democrats. For now, this is the Dems’ best opportunity for a pickup.

6. Ohio (open) – George Voinovich (R) retiring after two terms

Outlook: Tossup / Leans Republican hold

Even with nationwide Republican advances of late, former Rep. Rob Portman (R) has never built a convincing lead against either Lt. Gov. Lee Fisher (D) or Secretary of State Jennifer Brunner (D). Fisher is favored to win the primary, and at the point I expect the race to become a tossup. If the election were today, Portman would win.

7. New Hampshire (open) – Judd Gregg (R) retiring after three terms

Outlook: Tossup / Leans Republican hold

Former state Attorney General Kelly Ayotte (R) has a slight lead over Rep. Paul Hodes (D) — grain-of-salt-worthy pollster ARG has her ahead 43-36, hardly a game-ending advantage. Like Ohio, Hodes should close the gap over the spring and summer, and if he doesn’t, we should be worried.

8. Pennsylvania – Arlen Specter (D) seeking sixth term

Outlook: Leans Democratic hold

Specter is in for a close fight (if he makes it to the general election) against former Rep. Pat Toomey (R), the hardline conservative who nearly unseated him in the GOP primary back in 2004. In the meantime, Rep. Joe Sestak is giving Specter reason to watch his left flank. But Specter has been careful to compile a fairly progressive record since switching parties last spring, and my own prediction is that this gives him a clear edge for the nomination. At that point, disaffected Democrats and moderate-minded Independents will gradually line up behind the incumbent in big enough numbers to carry him to victory over Toomey, especially if the winds shift back to the Dems over the summer.

9. Illinois (open) – Roland Burris (D) retiring after partial term

Outlook: Leans Democratic hold

The polls have been unclear about who has the advantage in a race between Republican Rep. Mark Kirk and Democratic state Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, while (due to name recognition) Kirk polls well ahead of lesser-known Dems David Hoffman and Cheryle Jackson. Considering the state’s recent history, it’s hard to imagine Kirk winning on any but an exceptionally fortunate night for the GOP.

10. Florida (open) – George LeMieux (R) retiring after partial term

Outlook: Leans Republican hold

Gov. Charlie Crist has long been the favorite for this seat in a general election, as his cross-partisan popularity remains high, but his biggest problem will be winning the GOP primary against conservative former state House Speaker Marco Rubio. If Rubio beats Crist, as many now expect (though his momentum could always stall), expect a competitive and expensive race between Rubio and Rep. Kendrick Meek (D).

11. North Carolina – Richard Burr (R) seeking second term

Outlook: Leans Republican hold

I’ve been surprised by the sporadic polling in this race. Burr faces a reputable challenger in Secretary of State Elaine Marshall (D), even if this is a Southern state in a GOP-leaning election cycle. Burr is far from universally popular or even universally recognized, but for now the DSCC clearly has to prioritize defense.

12. Kentucky (open) – Jim Bunning (R) retiring after 2 terms

Outlook: Leans Republican hold

The Democratic primary between Lt. Gov. Dan Mongiardo and state Attorney General Jack Conway has been nasty, while “small government conservative” Rand Paul has by several accounts taken the upper hand in the GOP primary against Secretary of State Trey Grayson, the establishment choice. Considering Kentucky’s traditional balance of social conservatism with economic liberalism, Paul would seem an unorthodox general election choice, but polls show he would do well against the Democrats. Definitely a primary to watch, even if either Republican is clearly favored in November.

Just below competitive:

– California for the Democrats (Boxer clearly ahead of Carly Fiorina, but not quite out of the woods)

– Gillibrand (New York B) for the Democrats (against anyone but Rep. Peter King, who might keep the race competitive, Gillibrand should win easily, assuming she wins the primary)

– Louisiana for the Republicans (Vitter leads Rep. Charlie Melancon, but his personal issues make it hard for me to rate him as “safe”)

The Democrats should be fine in Connecticut (Blumenthal trouncing Simmons/McMahon/Schiff), as should the Republicans in Kansas (either Tiahrt or Moran). Meanwhile, Republican incumbents seem solid (in the general election, at least) in Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah. Democratic incumbents should win without trouble in Hawaii, Indiana, Maryland, New York (Schumer), Oregon, Vermont, Washington, and Wisconsin.

AL-Sen: Shelby Says He’ll Run Again

Laura Henderson, the press secretary for the office of Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, sends us the following note after picking up on our discussion from yesterday:

I saw your posting from yesterday.  I can assure the readers of your blog that Senator Shelby has announced that he is running for reelection in 2010 and has every intention of remaining Alabama’s senior senator.

Of course, plans and intentions can change — for a while, it looked like Sens. Domenici and Hagel were going to run for another term this year. But at the age of 76 when he’ll be up for re-election in 2010, Shelby does have at least one term’s worth of gas left his tank, if he wants to use it. However, unlike Markos, I doubt that Shelby will face any Democrats of note if he indeed runs for another term.

AL-Sen, AL-Gov: Statewide Recruitment Thread

During each weekday this month, we’ll be looking at a new state featuring senatorial or gubernatorial races in 2010, and asking for your thoughts on who Democrats should recruit to take on these races.

Yesterday was Alaska, and today we turn our eyes to Alabama. Incumbent Republican Gov. Bob Riley is term-limited, and several Democrats of note are giving this race a look (notably, Agriculture Commissioner and SSP hero Ron Sparks, Lt. Gov. Jim Folsom, Jr., and Rep. Artur Davis).

On the Senate side, GOP Sen. Richard Shelby has yet to announce his re-election plans, but with $13 million in his campaign’s coffers, I highly doubt any Democrats of note will want to receive a pummeling by that kind of money. Still, Shelby will turn 76 in 2010, and a retirement is not out of the question. If that seat opened up, we could see a serious game of musical chairs up and down the ballot on both sides of the aisle.

So, whom should the Democrats recruit for these races? And whom might step forward from GOP bench for either of these races (assuming that Shelby retires)?

A look at the 2008 Senate races, August edition

So with about three months to go, with Ted Stevens’ indictment dominating the Senate news, it’s time for another look at all the 2008 Senate races.  There are 35 seats up for election because of a scenario in Wyoming and Mississippi where both seats are up, due to the passing of Craig Thomas and the resignation of Trent Lott, respectively.  Now obviously, quite a few of the races are considered “safe” for the incumbent.  So what are the competitive races?

I’ll rank these in terms of tiers.  The top tier will be the races where the party holding the seat has a real shot of switching (but I ain’t guaranteeing anything).  The second tier are races that could become top tier races, but are not at this point.  Tier III are ones where a major event would need to happen for the seat to come into play.  And the safe seats?  Well, Mike Gravel has a better shot at winning the presidency than those incumbents have of losing their races.

This is meant to be a primer for both newcomers and political junkies alike, so some of the information may seem repetitive for you junkies out there.  Also see my previous May diary to see what things have changed since my last update.

(Just so you know, I don’t do predictions.  Every time I do, horrible things happen.  So I won’t even make an actual prediction on the Virginia Senate race, because doing so would effectively jinx Mark Warner.)

FYI, whenever I refer to fundraising numbers in the races, I’m using the latest numbers we know of, from the end of June 2008.  “Q2” refers to the period of April to June 2008, the most recent quarter that we have the fundraising numbers for.  Major hat tip to Senate Guru for putting all the numbers in an easy to read table format.

Tier I

1. Virginia: Incredibly popular former Governor Mark Warner (D) is running for this seat that opened up when John Warner (R), no relation, announced his retirement.  Warner left the governorship with a whopping 80% approval rating.  That’s freaking unheard of.  He’ll face another former Governor, Jim Gilmore (R), who some of you may remember tried running for President last year.  Gilmore was known as the governor who helped drive the state into near-bankruptcy with his car tax cut, and Warner as the one who fixed the problem when he took over for Gilmore.  Not a single poll shows Gilmore getting even 40%.  Warner’s sitting on 20+ point leads.  And oh yeah, Warner also pulled in almost $3 million in Q2, while Gilmore raised less than $500K.  To top it off, Gilmore’s been burning through the little cash he got, and ended up with less than $117K left at the end of Q2, which was almost $5 million less than what Warner was sitting on.  This is about as lopsided as you’re gonna get, but still, no official predictions from me.

2. New Mexico: Rep. Tom Udall (D) announced for this seat shortly after Pete Domenici (R) announced his retirement.  Yes, he is part of the famed Udall political family; his father Stewart served as Interior Secretary under JFK, and his uncle Mo was an Arizona Congressman for 30 years who ran for President in 1976.  Stewart Udall was largely responsible for just about all the environmental laws that were passed in the 1960s.  Rep. Steve Pearce (R) won a bitter GOP primary over Heather Wilson, ending her career in Congress.  So the entire New Mexico U.S. House delegation was running for this Senate seat!  The polling just keeps getting better and better for Udall, as he’s hit the 60% mark in several polls now. I wrote back in May that I expected to see a sort of “unity bounce” once the GOP primary was decided.  Instead, the opposite happened, and Udall’s numbers went up even more.  Combine this with Udall having over 5 times as much cash on hand as Pearce, and Udall would be number 1 on the list if it weren’t for Mark Warner.

3. New Hampshire: John Sununu (R) is about to become 2008’s version of Rick Santorum.  Democrats could run a ham sandwich against him, and it would be a competitive race.  But why settle for a ham sandwich when you can run the former governor?  Jeanne Shaheen (D), who Sununu beat in 2002 along with some illegal phone-jamming on Election Day for which several GOP operatives went to prison, has led Sununu in every single poll taken in 2008.  The latest Rasmussen poll has her leading 50%-45%.  A general rule of thumb: any incumbent polling under 50% in an election poll is in trouble.  Add to that, the fact New Hampshire strongly went blue in 2006 all over the place, kicking out both Republican Congressmen and flipping over 80 seats in the state House, giving Democrats control of both state legislature for the first time since 1910, and Sununu has to be considered the most endangered incumbent.  The only thing keeping this race from being tied at number 2 is that while Shaheen outraised Sununu in the first two quarters this year, Sununu still has almost $3 million more cash on hand than Shaheen has.  That money will probably make this race closer, but given how much New Hampshire has changed, I’m not sure how much that money advantage is really going to help Sununu.

4. Alaska: 84-year-old Ted Stevens (R) is seeking a sixth term, but earlier this week, he was indicted on 7 felony counts for not disclosing the gifts (over $250,000 worth) he got from oil company Veco Corp.  This started when the FBI raided his home last June.  Several Veco executives have already pled guilty to bribing Ted’s son Ben, who was the former Alaska state senate president, with former Veco CEO Bill Allen having admitted some bribe money also went towards Ted Stevens.  Democrats got their top choice when Anchorage mayor Mark Begich entered the race.  His father Nick Begich was a former Congressman, who was killed in a plane crash along with House Majority Leader Hale Boggs (D-LA) in 1972.  Even before the indictment, several polls had already shown Begich leading Stevens.  In the wake of the indictments, Rasmussen now has Begich leading Stevens 50%-37%.  Jury selection will begin on September 24, and Stevens wants the trial to take place before the election.  What remains to be seen is if he’ll survive the August 26th primary, and even if he does, if the Alaska GOP would try to replace him with someone else.  But Rasmussen also showed that among some of the other GOP challengers, Begich leads them by even bigger margins, so it’s unclear if that will help the GOP out.  On the fundraising side, Begich pulled in over $1 million in Q2, over a quarter million more than Stevens brought in, though Stevens still has twice as much cash on hand as Begich, though that may not help him now.

5. Colorado: Wayne Allard (R) kept his pledge of only serving two terms, and is retiring from the Senate.  Rep. Mark Udall (D) is Mo Udall’s son, and Tom Udall’s cousin.  He’ll face off against former Congressman Bob Schaffer (R).  Colorado has been trending bluer recently, picking up a Senate seat in 2004 (Ken Salazar), and a congressional district and the governor’s office in 2006.  Schaffer had previously lost the GOP primary for that Senate seat back in 2004 to Pete Coors.  At the end of Q2, Udall was sitting on an almost $4 million warchest, with Schaffer over $1 million behind.  Schaffer also has close ties to Jack Abramoff and human rights abuses on the Marianas Islands, and was helping out Aspect Energy push an oil deal that would hurt U.S.-Iraq policy.  Recently, though, some right-wing front groups have been running TV and radio ads filled with falsehoods attacking Udall.  That may explain why Rasmussen shows the race getting narrower, though Udall still leads.  The other polls still show Udall with some kind of lead (other than Quinnipiac, though its crosstabs make it look like they undersampled Democrats), and not a single poll has come out with Schaffer holding any kind of lead.  Update: 9News in Colorado went through one of those attack ads and found every single statement the ad made was misleading, false, or conflating opinion with fact.

6. Oregon: Oregon House Speaker Jeff Merkley (D) won a close primary over lawyer/activist Steve Novick to take on Gordon Smith (R).  The two quickly joined forces in a unity event to take on Smith.  Smith seems worried, as his recent commercials have him embracing Barack Obama and John Kerry and fighting Bush!  Merkley raised over half a million more than Smith did in Q2, but much of that was spent on the primary, and now Smith has almost $4 million more in his campaign war chest at the end of Q2.  The DSCC has stepped in with an $850,000 cable TV ad buy starting in September to help out Merkley.  Also, the latest Rasmussen poll now shows Merkley with a lead for the first time ever in any poll, at 43%-41%.  In an interesting twist, Smith is actually a cousin of the two Udalls running for Senate.

7. Mississippi-B: Roger Wicker (R), appointed by governor Haley Barbour (R) on New Year’s Eve after Trent Lott (R) resigned to become a lobbyist, won’t have all the incumbency power Lott had accumulated over the years.  Wicker was the Congressman from MS-01, so he’s won elected office previously.  But that seat then went blue when Travis Childers (D) won it in May.  So things are changing even in Mississippi.  That has to be a shot in a arm for former Governor Ronnie Musgrove (D).  However, Wicker showed himself to be a prolific fundraiser, bringing in over $2.5 million in Q1.  But in Q2, the two were almost even in fundraising, each raising a little over $800K.  The latest polls still show this to be a tight race, with Wicker slightly up.  It may all come down to the African-American turnout in this state.  The 2004 exit polls showed they made up 34% of the electorate.  The Rasmussen poll showing Wicker up by 6 seems to also have a 34% black breakdown in their sample.  So if black turnout increases, that should benefit Musgrove.  And because this is technically a special election (to fill out the remainder of Lott’s term), there will be no party identification on the ballot in November.  That can actually work to our benefit in a state like Mississippi.  As a result, Wicker went up with a TV ad back in May introducing himself to voters.

8. Minnesota: Norm Coleman (R) won this seat in 2002 only after Paul Wellstone (D) died just a few weeks before the election.  Comedian Al Franken got the DFL (basically the Democratic Party for Minnesota) nod.  The polls had been steadily favoring Franken, until late April when a story came out that Franken owed $70,000 in back taxes to 17 different states.  Now, it turns out that as a traveling comedian, having visited lots of states, he was supposed to pay taxes to those individual states, but paid them instead all to the states he had homes in.  Then the GOP hammered Franken for a Playboy article he wrote over a decade ago, calling it “juicy porn“.  As for the fallout, there are very conflicting stories.  SurveyUSA has Coleman up by double-digits, while Rasmussen has Franken up by 3.  However, the SurveyUSA poll shows Coleman’s best support comes from young people, which doesn’t seem to make a lot of sense.  Combined with their presidential poll, which shows Obama TIED with McCain among young voters, and something doesn’t quite make sense in their numbers.  The Senate poll also shows the electorate will be made up of 32% Republicans, only 33% Democrats, and 21% Independents.  It strangely leaves out 14% of the population.  So take that poll with a huge grain of salt.  Plus, Franken did outraise Coleman for three straight quarters until Q2, when they both raised over $2.3 million, with Coleman getting $50,000 more, though Coleman ended Q2 with $3 million more in his coffers.

9. North Carolina: After Kay Hagan easily won her primary in May, the polls showed a primary bump, with some polls even putting her ahead of incumbent Elizabeth Dole (R).  That led Dole to fire her campaign manager.  Then her campaign asked the DSCC and NRSC not to spend money on the race.  Um, isn’t that’s the whole point of those campaign committees?  However, since the primary bump, Dole’s lead has gone back to about 10 points.  But something to note about those polls, they all seem to underestimate the black turnout.  In 2004, blacks made up 26% of the electorate, while these polls have a sample that’s 22% or less black.  Conventional wisdom says black turnout will be significantly higher than in 2004, so keep that in mind.  Hagan’s been keeping pace in fundraising, pulling in 91% as much as Dole did in Q2, though Hagan still trails by a little over a 2:1 margin in cash on hand.  Interesting fact, Hagan is the niece of the late Lawton Chiles, the longtime Senator and Governor of Florida, who came from behind to win re-election to the governorship in 1994 by defeating Jeb Bush.

10. Maine: Rep. Tom Allen (D) is running to challenge Susan Collins (R).  But even though Maine is a blue state, he has an uphill climb.  Collins has worked hard to craft her moderate credentials.  The most recent Rasmussen poll has some good news for Allen, with him only trailing Collins 49%-42%.  Allen’s fundraising was pretty strong in Q2, with both him and Collins netting a little over $1 million each, though he trails in cash on hand by $2 million.  The DSCC has now reserved $5 million for ad buys in the state.  And it will be needed, as the Maine newspapers suck at telling the truth about Collins.  I mean, really suck.  When they consistently let Maine GOP officials shill for Collins in letters to the editor without letting the readers know that fact, you know something’s up.

11. Louisiana: Mary Landrieu (D) is the most endangered Democratic incumbent in 2008.  But how endangered that really is remains to be seen.  She was still able to win in 2002, a decidedly strong year for the GOP.  Karl Rove was able to woo state treasurer John Neely Kennedy (no relation to the Kennedy family in Massachusetts) to switch parties to run for re-election to State Treasurer as a Republican last August, and after winning, he announced he would challenge Landrieu for her Senate seat.  (Party switching actually seems rather common in Louisiana.)  As for how endangered Landrieu really is, well, there’s lots of conflicting data.  On the one hand, hundreds of thousands of residents from New Orleans and the surrounding areas never came back to the state after Hurricane Katrina, making the state more red than it used to be.  Bobby Jindal (R) didn’t even need a runoff to win the governor’s race last year, getting over 50% of the vote on the first ballot and performing stronger than expected.  On the other hand, Mary’s brother Mitch won the Lt. Governorship by an even bigger margin.  And the win by Don Cazayoux (D) in LA-06, a Republican district, may bode well for Landrieu.  Kennedy did outraise Landrieu in Q1, but she outraised him in Q2, and has almost $3 million more in cash on hand than he does.  All the non-Zogby polls show Landrieu ahead; the question is by how much.  A boost came to the Landrieu campaign when the Huffington Post obtained an NRSC memo from 2004 that attacked Kennedy when he ran for the Senate that year… as a Democrat.  After ripping him for being so wrong for Louisiana, they’re suddenly going to say he’s the right person for the job?

12. Texas: Democrats got the challenger they wanted to face John Cornyn (R).  State rep. and Texas National Guard Lt. Col. Rick Noriega (D) served in Afghanistan after 9/11, and was chosen to coordinate relief efforts in Houston after Hurricane Katrina.  The biggest news this summer so far is probably the Big Bad John ad Cornyn’s people released, which drew mockery and laughter from just about everywhere.  Then the Texas Medical Association rescinded their endorsement of Cornyn after he and other GOP Senators blocked the Medicare bill that would have prevented 10% cuts in Medicare payments to doctors, and the American Medical Association said they were going to run ads against Senators like Cornyn who voted against it.  But no polls have been taken of this race since June, when Rasmussen showed Noriega down by 13, though Cornyn was under the 50% mark.  However, the fundraising numbers are troubling, with Cornyn having outraised Noriega by more than a 4-to-1 margin in Q1.  Noriega did better in Q2, raising almost $1 million, but Cornyn finished Q2 with over 10 times as much cash on hand.  And in a huge state like Texas, money will most definitely matter.  Unless some polls come out showing this is a closer race, this will remain in Tier II.  Update: And right after writing this, Rasmussen shows Noriega down by 10 points, with Cornyn under the 50% mark.  So I’ve moved it back to Tier I status.

13. Kentucky: Even though Mitch McConnell (R) became the Senate Minority Leader, he is a top target of the Democrats.  And with former Governor Ernie Fletcher (R) losing his re-election bid to Steve Beshear (D) 59%-41% last November, that made Kentucky Democrats even more confident.  But then Kentucky Attorney General Greg Stumbo and State Auditor Crit Luallen both declined to run, and netroots favorite Lt. Col. Andrew Horne, a Marine who has served in both the Persian Gulf War and the Iraq War, dropped his bid.  Wealthy businessman Bruce Lunsford hasn’t exactly been a netroots favorite in the past, having ticked off a lot of Democrats in the past by endorsing Fletcher over Ben Chandler (D) for Governor back in 2003 after he lost the primary to Chandler.  But it looks like Kentucky Democrats quickly unified behind Lunsford and are all pledging to do their part to defeat McConnell.  McConnell has a HUGE warchest of over $9 million, but Lunsford can afford to self-fund.  And this quote from Lunsford after winning the primary is nice to read.  “[McConnell is] going to spend millions of dollars trying to destroy my reputation.  But I don’t care how many names he’s going to call me, because in January he’s going to call me ‘Senator.'”  Well played, sir.  Things like that will help assuage the netroots.  Two recent polls show Lunsford behind by about 10 points.  Lunsford actually brought in more money in Q2, largely due to loaning himself $2.5 million to keep pace, but McConnell still has almost 7 times as much cash on hand.  But by keeping pace, if Lunsford can force McConnell (and his campaign coffers) to stay in Kentucky instead of going to help other Senators, that will only serve to benefit the other Democrats running for Senate.

Tier II

I decided, for the sake of my own sanity, not to try to rank the Tier II and III races.  These are given in alphabetical order, by state.

Idaho: With Larry Craig (R) retiring after his airport bathroom… ah… incident, it’s looking like a rematch between Lt. Governor Jim Risch (R) and former Congressman Larry LaRocco (D), who lost the 2006 Lt. Gov. race to Risch by a sizable 58%-39% margin.  While LaRocco finished 2007 with more cash on hand than Risch, he was absolutely blitzkrieged in Q1, with Risch raising over 4 ½ times as much money as LaRocco raised, and again outraised in Q2, leaving Risch with over 4 times as much cash on hand as LaRocco.  A recent Research 2000 poll showed LaRocco down by 10 points, 42%-32%.  The wild card in this race may be independent rancher Rex Rammell, who despises Risch, and may be able to pull away some of Risch’s support.  Rammell actually outraised LaRocco, and has a little more cash on hand, and will spend that money attacking Risch.  There are also two other right-wing candidates on the ballot that will split the conservative vote even more.

Kansas: Pat Roberts (R), known for covering up issues related to intelligence and domestic spying for Bush, looked to be coasting to an easy re-election until former Congressman Jim Slattery entered the racein mid-March.  Given that late start, he still managed to raise over $250,000 in just the first two weeks, and brought in a decent haul in Q2 also.  Rasmussen had given encouraging news in June, showing Slattery within single digits, but in July, their poll showed Slattery down by 27 points.  There are signs, however, that Roberts is nervous, as his people lashed out, attacking Slattery for criticizing the Iraq War, considering he voted for going to war with Iraq.  Except… the war he voted for was the FIRST Gulf War in 1991.  So… voting for that war makes you unable to criticize this war?  Um, OK, that’s some great Republican logic for you.  And then, they attacked Slattery for missing a lot of votes in his last year in Congress.  Why only that year?  Because that was the year Slattery was back in Kansas running for Governor.

Oklahoma: James Inhofe (R) looks pretty safe, though interestingly enough, Inhofe has never gotten to 50% approval in the history of SurveyUSA’s polling.  State senator and netroots favorite Andrew Rice (D), who lost his brother in the 9/11 attacks, is now the formal Democratic nominee, having won his primary last week by a 20-point margin.  Rice and Inhofe could not be farther apart when it comes to energy and environmental issues.  Rice pulled in decent fundraising numbers in Q2, but still trails Inhofe by over $1.7 million.  A Research 2000 poll from June showed Rice down by 22 points.  Those two factors would normally make this a Tier III race, but then came the news that veteran political operatives Geri Prado and Phil Singer have joined Rice’s staff.  Those two both worked on Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and for the DSCC.

Tier III

Alabama: The Democrats’ top hope in Agriculture Commissioner Ron Sparks announced he was not running, leaving little-known state senator Vivian Figures (D) as the only challenger to incumbent Jeff Sessions (R).  But, Jeff Sessions does play a role in the Don Siegelman case.  And it seems Sessions was desperate enough to try and kill the 60 Minutes piece about Siegelman before it aired.  So if Sessions gets ensnared in this scandal, his seat may not be so safe.  And the prospect of that, which grows dimmer by the day, is the only thing keeping this from going into the “safe” category.

Georgia: A crowded field of relatively unknown Democratic challengers to Saxby Chambliss (R) didn’t seem to go anywhere, until former state representative Jim Martin entered the race in March.  Martin was the 2006 Democratic Lt. Gov. nominee, so he’s run a statewide race before.  And in just 12 days, Martin raised $346,675, which dropped a lot of jaws.  Martin would first have to get by DeKalb County CEO Vernon Jones, who is black and is depending on African-American turnout to win the primary runoff on August 5th.  Except… Jones voted for Bush… twice, still doesn’t know what to think about Iraq, and likes calling Democrats “losers”.  Way to, um, not endear yourself to the netroots.  The 3rd and 4th place finishers in the primary have already endorsed Martin in the runoff.  Remember, Chambliss ousted triple amputee Max Cleland (D) in 2002 by running a despicable ad blending the images of Osama bin Laden and Saddam Hussein into Cleland’s face.  If Martin bests Jones in the primary next Tuesday, I’ll move this up to Tier II, as polling shows Martin would at least be competitive, though he’d still be seriously behind in funds.

Nebraska: With Chuck Hagel (R) retiring, former governor Mike Johanns (R) quit his job as Bush’s Agriculture Secretary to run for this seat.  The netroots were thrilled when rancher and history professor Scott Kleeb (D) threw his hat in the ring.  While Kleeb lost the NE-03 House race in 2006, that district is the most Republican in Nebraska, and Kleeb got a higher-than-expected 45% of the vote.  That’s had a lot of people thinking he would actually win in the other two districts, and thus a statewide race.  Of course, that doesn’t take into account how he’d be running against the former governor of the state.  Kleeb easily won his primary against Republican-turned-Democrat Tony Raimondo, but the polls show Kleeb still has quite a ways to go.  The last two Rasmussen polls show Kleeb down by over 25 points to Johanns.  The one bright spot was that Kleeb outraised Johanns in Q2, though he still trails in cash on hand by almost $800K.

New Jersey: Frank Lautenberg (D) is running again, but as he is already 84 years old, his age is always going to be a concern.  His poll numbers also don’t look that good, but no New Jersey politician’s numbers ever look really good.  He easily beat back a primary challenge from Rep. Rob Andrews.  On the GOP side, it’s been a wild roller coaster ride as multiple candidates have been declaring, and then dropping out of the race, before they finally settled on former Congressman Dick Zimmer.  Blue Jersey has a wild recap of it all.

South Dakota: Tim Johnson (D) is fully back at work after suffering a brain hemorrhage in December 2006.  His illness had made Republicans hesitant to challenge or attack him.  And the polling shows Johnson may be the most popular Senator in the country, to boot.

Tennessee: Former Tennessee Democratic Party chair Bob Tuke entered the race in late February.  It remains to be seen if Tuke can make this a real race against Lamar Alexander (R), who was also a two-term governor of Tennessee and the Secretary of Education under George H.W. Bush.  Tuke has a little over a quarter million on hand, while Alexander has over three million.

Democratic safe seats

Arkansas (Mark Pryor)

Delaware (Joe Biden)

Illinois (Dick Durbin)

Iowa (Tom Harkin)

Massachusetts (John Kerry)

Michigan (Carl Levin)

Montana (Max Baucus)

Rhode Island (Jack Reed)

West Virginia (Jay Rockefeller)

Republican safe seats

Mississippi (Thad Cochran)

South Carolina (Lindsey Graham)*

Wyoming (Michael Enzi)

Wyoming (John Barrasso)

*South Carolina is now a safe seat, as Lindsey Graham easily won his primary in June, and Michael Cone ended up barely losing the Democratic primary by 0.6% to Bob Conley, a Republican-turned-Democrat who voted for Ron Paul in the South Carolina primary.

So there you have it, my personal rankings for the 2008 Senate races, as they stand at the beginning of August.  Things can still change, people who only pay attention after Labor Day may shake things up, and we won’t know exactly what the national mood will be 3 months from now.  Still, given that, these are my picks, and I’m sticking with them… until my next update, at least.

Feel free to rip me apart in the comments, telling me I don’t know what the hell I’m talking about, how could I possibly put a certain race in Tier II or III when it’s so obviously a top tier race, why I’m being too optimistic in some seat, etc.  Have at it.  🙂